If you are submitting your business plan to an investor, financial institution or someone else, this is one section that is necessary. The introduction section of your business plan will set the stage and tone for the reader. Include an attention-getting cover page. Consider using your company logo and/or a picture of your product or service in action. Your table of contents should be organized and easy to follow. Pay special attention to the Executive Summary since many readers will go to it first and may never go beyond it.
The introductory letter briefly states why you are submitting/creating your plan and highlights important information for the receiver. If you are presenting your business plan to someone specific, be sure to research the correct spelling of their name and mailing address.
In addition to the words "Business Plan", your cover page should clearly identify who you are, your company name and how you can be contacted. Consider making it stand out by using images of your product/service in action.
Your Cover Page should include the following:
- Your name
- Company name
- Telephone number
It might also include (if available):
- Fax number
- E-mail address
- Website address
- Company logo
- Picture of product or service in action
Table of Contents
A reader may often use the table of contents to skip to the part of your plan they are most interested in. Therefore your table of contents should clearly outline the core sections and subsections of your plan. Wait until your business plan is complete to add page numbers.
The executive summary is the most important part of your business plan. It is where you grab the attention of the reader by summarizing the highlights of your business plan in a short document. Succinctly state what the business is about and why it will be successful. Don't assume people will read your plan cover-to-cover. It is a good idea not to write the executive summary until your entire plan is finished - that way you can select the most relevant information to be included in your summary.
Your Executive Summary should cover the following:
- Describe your business concept. Be sure to include what industry sector you will be operating in (e.g. retail, manufacturing, wholesale etc.), the market you will serve, and your competitive advantage.
- How will you differentiate your product or service from competitors?
- What is the legal structure of your company (e.g. sole proprietorship, partnership or incorporated company)?
- Is your company already in operation or is it a start-up operation? If it is operational, give a brief overview of your progress to date. Include achievements such as patents, prototypes, contracts, and market research indicating that the business is viable.
- Who is involved in the venture? Briefly summarize your management team's experience and credentials.
- How much money (if any) are you seeking and for what purpose?
- How much money has the founder(s) invested in the business to date? How has this money been spent?
- Summarize your projected financial performance. Include projected gross revenues and net profits in the first year of business.
- Do you intend to draw a salary from the businesses in the beginning? If not, how will you support yourself? If so, how much?
To see The Introduction section of a sample business plan, click on any of the company logos below: